IEMI Readies Its Anti-Counterfeit Plan

The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative, an association of semiconductor OEMs, claims to have new ways to keep counterfeit components out of your supply chain. If it doesn't, it won't be for lack of effort.

First envisioned way back in 2011, the project called for companies to donate a small amount of staff time — about three hours a week — to analyzing data from supply chain operations. The goal was to identify where the fake goods were most likely to wiggle into the production process.

At first they identified four types of products that appeared most appealing to counterfeiters. “Manufacturing shortfall and product shortages, high value products; obsolete, discontinued, and legacy devices; and options or upgrades” were the most often targeted, they found.

This makes intuitive sense in some cases, but was contradictory in others. A shortage situation always creates chaos, and a solution to an unexpected shortage is always an appealing thing for an OEM to hear from a supplier. Due diligence lags in those situations.

Similarly, obsolete products get less scrutiny, because they're no longer profit centers.

But the high value and upgrade-related products were surprising. These are the products OEMs are most keen to defend. They were getting targeted successfully anyway.

Of perhaps more concern, some of these highest value electronics were coming from the aerospace, medical, and defense industries. There, the cloned or copied technology wasn't just valuable and proprietary — it also carried a higher level of legal sensitivity, and ultimately, literal risk for the end user.

Understanding the risk
The result was an effort to, first, get some idea of how the problem's size: a reliable metric that would “enable iNEMI members to assess the risk of counterfeit use in their respective industries, the risk of untrusted sources of supply in that industry and generate the total cost of ownership associated with those risks.”

In other words: Everyone knew this was a problem. But how big was it, and where were the trigger points?

That's the information the organization is going to talk about in an upcoming series of webinars in which it's recruiting companies to help plan and participate in the ongoing research. Though the process began as a concept more than two years ago, the work itself is only now underway.

A call for participation is still open. It requires an application and admittance by the project's managers. The goal is to finally draw a kind of map of where the leaks are in the electronics supply chain. Not company-by-company, but industry-by-industry. It's an ambitious idea, but a bottom line goal: improve the integrity of each product, and the industry in aggregate.

A summary, and a way to get in contact, is here.

3 comments on “IEMI Readies Its Anti-Counterfeit Plan

  1. Tom Murphy
    June 7, 2013

    Trying to be optimistic, I think this is a good first step. But it's like saying it's a good first step across the desert. We may never get to the other side or, if we do, it will be by some other means.

  2. SP
    June 8, 2013

    Yes definitely its a good step. When the whole indusrty will stand up against counterfeit, there will be progress. Especially asking the engineers to spend few hours a week on analysis of this would make lots of difference. If this is made mandatory in all electronics company, and there is a regulatory body that analyses the data, then some positive results can be seen.

  3. t.alex
    June 28, 2013

    Not just fake goods but also discarded parts (i.e parts that fail QC tests). These parts somehow infiltrate back into the supply chain and it can create a lot of problems. 

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